Exploring Art with Young Children
While there is no “right” or “wrong” way to teach art to your students, there are several strategies you can employ that will make your art instruction more beneficial for the children in your care.
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Here are a few suggestions when teaching art:
Be a Model
If you have a negative attitude towards the arts, there is a good chance that your students will, too. It doesn’t really matter if you enjoy art personally. The point is to not reflect your own bias onto your students in a way that would turn them away from any subject. All areas of learning are equally important, and that should be reflected in your behavior as an educator.
Be Mindful of Your Words
The children in your care should be receiving praise on a daily basis, there’s no doubt about that. However, the way we compliment children should be examined. All too often, educators are not giving their students meaningful feedback. Students are given throwaway compliments such as “That’s great, Sophia”, or “Wow, what a pretty picture”. While these phrases aren’t doing any harm to children, they’re not really helping them become better artists/learners either.
Teachers should focus on the effort their students put into their work. For example, “I really love how hard you worked on your drawing. I can see that it means a lot to you.”
Remember that it’s not about the finished piece. It’s about the learning going on while they are creating, and that is what should be stressed with your praise.
Give them Time
All children work at different paces. Demanding that a child finish a piece of artwork in a short amount of time isn’t realistic or conducive to learning. Children need to be given the opportunity to take a break from their piece, reflect, and return with new ideas. Be sure you have an area in your classroom to put the projects that are under construction.
Typically, art does not flourish under stressful situations for children. If children feel pressured to create a certain way, they will become easily frustrated and creating will often stop all together. You will want to discuss uniqueness and encourage adaptability when they exploring any form of art.